Matthew Broderick apparently played this part when it was on Broadway back in 2009 and seemingly loved it so much he came to London to play it here. And I can see why.
This is a lovely, deep portrait of an unassuming man in mid-life crisis. It’s such an utterly believable character, and played so beautifully, it feels incredibly intimate even in such a large theatre …
Making it both entirely real and comedic is a very difficult balance to pull off, but Lonergan and Broderick do it absolutely perfectly. There are some laugh-aloud moments, about which more in a moment, but it was the lower-key humour I enjoyed most.
It would have been good to get to know the wife better. Elizabeth McGovern’s role feels too small for an actor of her calibre, though the fact that she is able to convey so much with so little is a joy to watch. Her non-verbal acting is just spectacular. There is one moment, about which I will say nothing, where her facial expressions communicate so many different things in about ten seconds of silence – it’s a jaw-dropping piece of acting.
Rosalind Eleazar was also brilliant in her role, and we get to know her character far better than McGovern’s. I didn’t know her, and her IMDB entry doesn’t show much – I hope to see much more from her in future.
The student interactions in the class scenes are played more for laughs. The scenes are funny, and the two main actors here perform beautifully, but perhaps a little out of keeping with the more gentle and sad humour of the rest of the play.
The ending is perfect.